Fran Drescher Thinks Poisonous AI Is Deadly For Actors And Writers

By Robert Scucci | Updated

Fran Drescher in Happily Divorced

Deadline reports that SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher is leading the charge against the use of Generative Artificial Intelligence (GAI) in filmmaking, and had quite a few things to say about the current state of the industry. On the most recent episode of the SAG-AFTRA Podcast, the Nanny star referred to corporate greed and the current state of technology as a “deadly cocktail” that will continue to undermine artists, and went on to say that she doesn’t want her constituents to “drink that poison anymore.”

The primary focus of Drescher’s advocacy for artists is centered on proper compensation and consent for the use of their likeness, and she is on a mission to seek out a fair resolution for all parties involved.

Fran Drescher has referred to the artificial use of an actor’s likeness without their permission as a dystopian way to undermine their entire livelihood.

On the topic of GAI, Fran Drescher expressed concern over how the use of artificial intelligence is undermining writers with its ability to generate scripts. But what’s most concerning to the SAG-AFTRA President is AI’s ability to duplicate an actor’s likeness through the use of deepfake technology without properly compensating them, or even getting their consent.

In other words, if a studio wants to produce and market a movie, they can take an image of a star’s face and have it appear on somebody else’s body without them knowing, which can have long-term negative effects on the industry if not addressed.

“Compensate and consent. That’s the name of the game. There’s no wiggle room around that. You have to compensate and you have to obtain consent, period. Otherwise, what are we we’re giving away? What is our business, our likeness, our gestures, our acting, our voices? That’s what we’re selling. That’s who we are. They wanna mimic that on artificial intelligence. Everybody’s watching dystopia series as entertainment while my members are living it.”

Fran Drescher

Fran Drescher has referred to the artificial use of an actor’s likeness without their permission as a dystopian way to undermine their entire livelihood. Elaborating on this sentiment, she expressed fear that the entire industry will continue to be dehumanized if the appropriate checks and balances are not implemented to protect SAG-AFTRA members from the corporate greed that’s currently running rampant.

Fran Drescher

But what Drescher is most disappointed about is how “tone deaf” studio CEOs are to the needs of the very talent that they’re exploiting through the use of artificial intelligence.

One of the realities that we have to face is that the industry’s entire business model has changed, but the contracts in place with acting and writing talent have not. Fran Drescher did not parse her words when she expressed her opinion that the industry needs to shift to a more employee friendly culture, and this is especially true when it comes to the way distribution and revenue models have changed since the advent of streaming.

“This shouldn’t be controversial. This should be something that companies should have come to us and immediately said, ‘That’s a very reasonable proposal.’ But instead they’ve been fighting, fighting us on it and attempting to keep for themselves the ability to control the use of actors bodies, faces and voices, whether their background actors are principle performers. They’ve tried to retain that control in an abusive way, and that’s not something that we can possibly tolerate.”

Fran Drescher

In an ideal world, cast members would be more fairly compensated on the back end of a successful show through the restructuring of streaming residuals, which currently leaves a lot to be desired.

SAG-AFTRA members are lucky to have Fran Drescher in their corner because her pursuit for better working conditions and compensation is undeniably relentless. And it’s only a matter of time before major studios come to the realization that they need to work together with the striking labor unions, and come to a suitable resolution that’s mutually advantageous for everybody involved.

For the time being, however, the strike will continue to drag out until SAG-AFTRA members reasonable demands for consent and compensation are recognized by studios who are currently making money hand over fist without paying a fair share to SAG-AFTRA members.